Kingyo Used Books Vol. #02 -

Manga Review

Mania Grade: A

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  • Art Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Text/Translation Rating: A-
  • Age Rating: 16 and Up
  • Released By: Viz Media
  • MSRP: 12.99
  • Pages: 208
  • ISBN: 9781421533667
  • Size: A5
  • Orientation: Right to Left
  • Series: Kingyo Used Books

Kingyo Used Books Vol. #02

Kingyo Used Books Vol. #02 Manga Review

By Chris Kirby     December 01, 2010
Release Date: October 19, 2010

Kingyo Used Books Vol. #02
© Viz Media

More stories about Manga and the lives it touches brought to you by our favorites used Manga store.

Creative Staff
Writer/Artist: Seimu Yoshizaki
What they say:
A seminal manga series about three people named Adolph during the tumultuous times of World War II helps a student find his resolve. Reading manga based on famous children’s literature provides a window of escape for a bar hostess and a little girl separated from her mother. Manga about a working-class neighborhood in Osaka gives Natsuki insight into her parents’ love for each other. A long-running series that comes out annually proves that shojo manga isn’t always just for girls. Sometimes even the manliest of men wait in anticipation for the next volume to come out. A popular science fiction story inspires young boys to take a train ride.
First off, if you aren’t reading Kingyo Used Books, you should be; if you aren’t recommending this series to others, manga fan and non alike, you really should.  After I read the first volume quite some months ago I instantly fell in love with the premise, the execution, and the characters (as interchangeable as they are). After reading volume 2 this love has simply increased and the series as a whole has cast a larger spell on me.
Just like the first volume, volume 2 is a series of vignettes that revolve around people first and foremost, and yes manga becomes involved to some capacity.  To go through and explain what each story is about would be almost criminal, besides, the checklist on the back cover suffices just nicely. I would rather like to talk about some of my favorites that really exemplify why you should be reading this series.
The first story is about a high school boy who is very popular and good at everything he does; he is the vice-principal of the student council and gets good grades in all his subjects.  But he keeps questioning himself, why can’t I be someone else? One day in his desk he finds volume one of Adolf by Osamu Tezuka. Instead of going on and on about the manga and what is so great about it (by the way Adolf is an amazing manga! If you can find the old Viz editions please do!), the story progress about this boy and his personal dilemmas of self.  In reading Adolf he is able to put himself in retrospect and look at himself, question himself (how would I view the world if I was this character?), and eventually find himself.  The moment of self-realization, where he finds out who he is and how he should be living his life is wonderful and truly heartwarming.
Another story is called “One Percent Man”, this story revolves around a super tough manly man (think Baki the Grappler or maybe Fist of the North Star in character designs) named Ikaruga, whom is adored and revered by the students at his school for being so manly. One day he realizes it is spring and goes to a book store to find the new volume of Chiisana Koi no Monogatari, referred to as ChiChi and Sally by the characters, a yearly shojo publication. He is ashamed and embarrassed to ask for this manga at the counter because it is a “girl’s book” and he just isn’t comfortable given his appearance and general reputation.  At one store he hears an older businessman ask about the book without any hesitation. Ikaruga then follows the man and asks him how he could ask for that book without feeling embarrassed. The man simply replies, why not stand up and be the one percent of men who would, that “there’s no sense in denying your true self, no matter what the rest of the world thinks.”  Ikaruga and the man later go to another bookstore to look for the book and Ikaruga decides that he is going to step up and be a “one percent man” and ask himself. Of course some other tough guys from school catch him and begin to make fun of him. He begins to lose his cool but when the owner of Kingyo walks by and tells him that “manga are manga” Ikaruga decides to not fight and takes the high road.  The book ends with another gentleman going to buy a copy of the new ChiChi and Sally; he hides to book under another because of his embarrassment. Ikaruga grabs the man and asks him to join him and be a one percent man.
These stories just have a way of hitting my soul. The story of Ikaruga is so great because it reminds me to not be embarrassed of things that I enjoy.  Social prejudices be damned, I like x because of y and I don’t care what you think! The first story, finding out that you can’t be anyone but yourself so be the best self you can be is amazing. Sure these sounds like old adages passed down since the time of Aesop but a quick reminder of these philosophies is always needed because of the times we live in and the nature of being human. I am a sucker for sentiment and Kingyo does such an amazing job of bringing these life lessons to a medium that is ripe for it and a format that makes everything stick.
When volume one came out I remember hearing a lot of people say that Kingyo is only for the established manga fan, that no one else could get any enjoyment out of it. While this might have been true with volume one, volume two breaks that barrier down with vigor.  This is not just for manga fans but non-manga fans as well. Not only is this quality manga with great artwork and universal stories but by using manga as a focal point for each story and showing how a certain manga affects the individuals in the story it really shows the power of manga.  You can go on and on about how good a manga is but remember that that is just personal opinion and may not translate well to another person. If you are trying to get someone new into manga, your favorite manga might not hit a chord with them and might even derail them more.
With Kingyo Used Books, the stories are so universal that it isn’t hard to show someone the series.  Whether the person likes Kingyo or not still depends on their tastes but if they read it, they might be able to understand why you love manga better than you could ever explain it.  That is the power of this series, to show the power of manga, the way it can touch a person’s soul and have real deep meaning for them is more of a turn on for a non manga fan than anything else I can think of.  Plus, the cultural notes and ready information about each manga featured in the stories allows someone to become interested in a particular manga. I know that some of the manga featured I have never heard of, but by seeing how the manga affects the characters and the small amount of information provided by the book, I have become greatly interested to point of being fervent about some of the featured manga.  Even with a series I have already read, like Adolf, I enjoy seeing how the author interprets the manga and integrates it into her own manga and my interest becomes revitalized and I want to read the manga again.  This series is a solid winner and volume two makes itself more accessible and more potent in its many messages.
In Summary:
This is another fantastic volume in a fantastic series that should be getting more exposure.  Its one chapter stories fit the format perfectly and offer for great reading for both manga fans and for people interested in getting into manga. My praise cannot go high enough as each story is enjoyable and the feeling of euphoria they give me is unmatched in the world of short form manga. Highly recommended!

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